(Spoiler Policy Regarding the Comics: Preacher recaps will steer clear of comic spoilers in the main text, but for comic readers or those interested in learning more, there’s a “Comic Issues” section at the bottom that deals with specifics. As always, be respectful of fellow fans and avoid spoilers in the comments).
If nothing else, the story of “South Will Rise Again’s” bewildering (though ominous) cowboy reels you in, even if you may not know exactly why or where this story of Ratwater is going. As the lone horseman rides into the shady town to kick of this Preacher episode, we’re given a front row seat to how terrible the wild west could be. Scalps are sold by the handful to bartenders, fathers are murdered in front of their children, and the mothers are subsequently taken advantage of, with one of the patrons even forcing the son to watch. This episode is a brutal one, in many respects, but follows the comics in that manner for sure. As the cowboy simply sits at the bar, waiting for the medicine that will save his daughter’s ailment, he’s presented with troubles at every turn it seems. A preacher seems to recognize him from somewhere, later saying he remembered his horrible deeds from a past battle at Gettsyburg.
As the cowboy gets his medicine for his family the next morning, he trots past the family that took him in earlier for a night. Heading on the way to Ratwater, the cowboy lets them go, only to turn around in fear that the horrible fate of the prior family would befall them as well. For his good deed the cowboy is punished, as the preacher and his goons beat him to the floor and impede his mission home by ultimately killing his horse. Returning home, the cowboy finds his wife and daughter dead, with crows pecking at what remains, causing him to strap himself to the teeth with weapons as the scene cuts to the show’s intro. Ultimately, this scene, while confusing in terms of the overall series so far (if you haven’t read the comics), makes for some fantastic choreography and stark storytelling. While I think there might have been better ways to approach the presentation of this arc, having it all happen at once during an episode is still effective, and will certainly make for a big payoff down the line.
Going from one brutal story to another, we’re presented with heartbreaking scenes from Eugene, a.k.a. Arseface. When Sherrif Root hears some rustling outside the house, he investigates, allowing for some unknown townsfolk to paint a horrible picture in the residence. “Finish the Job” is written in Arseface’s room, pointing toward a shotgun resting against the wall. If Preacher has been able to nail anything from the books, it’s Arseface’s pathetic, yet entirely sympathetic, personality. Eugene simply wants everyone around him to be happy, kicking himself for his big mistake that turned him into Arseface. When Jesse eventually steps in to see if he can assist with getting the redemption that Eugene thinks he sorely needs, he goes to the comatose Tracy Loach’s mother and uses the word to demand she forgive Arseface. It’s a win for Eugene, that’s for sure, but at what cost?
Jesse is reveling in his new found popularity after “converting” Odin Quincannon to the cause in the last installment, attempting to fix the town’s problems with a combination of advice and the use of the “Word.”. Every time he uses his power, you can’t help but cringe at what he may actually be telling people to do. As we saw in the pilot episode, the desired effect of Jesse’s commands are up to the interpretation of the recipient, so for Custer to be using it all over the place will have some unwanted repercussions, as of course we see at the end of this episode with Odin opening fire on a company deadset to merge with his own. This makes for quite an interesting conundrum for Jesse’s character, and will surely come back to bite him.
On the topic of Tulip, she finds herself in something of a tailspin as she continues chatting with Cassidy and begins to come to the realization that Jesse is never going to be the man he once was. Carlos continues to be the ultimate goal for her, but he seemingly will always be out of reach, so she throws in with Cassidy and even has sex with him following their discussion about his vampiric ways. Tulip’s character is vastly different from the comics and in a way, I feel that does her a disservice here. Understandably, I think they took this approach to bolster the character of Emily along with her normality by making Tulip that much less relatable, but Tulip’s relatability is sorely missed here. There’s not much to really hold onto with her character, and her continued attempts to turn Jesse into who he used to be could have been handled with a bit more nuance I think.
Arguably, the main complaint I have with Preacher is the decompression of the series so far. Things are moving at a glacial pace when it comes to events and characters, and this isn’t even coming from a perspective of a fan of the comics where everything is moving at ten thousand miles per hour. You can make the argument that sure, AMC doesn’t have the budget, or simply isn’t willing to spend the money, to necessarily do it this way but in this day and age of television, that bird doesn’t fly. (Editor’s Comment: AMC series often start off way, way too slowly — when will they learn?) The series needs to pick up the pace and start offering some serious answers to the mysteries presented if they want to keep viewers interested. While the episodes themselves have ranged from good to fantastic, you can feel a bit of a waning in the show’s energy, and it definitely needs to work a bit more on its time management skills moving forward.
Rating: ★★★ Good
– Of all the crazy things that we’ve seen in the series so far, nothing was crazier than seeing a group of teens arguing about which Bible verses are the best.
– Jesse: “Well that’s a little like asking me what’s my favorite ice cream.”
– Tulip: “Sleep in a coffin?”
Cassidy: “Not if I can help it.”
– Cassidy: “I know that I’m too old to be playing games.”
– Odin: “Oh how the sun shines when you take time to look at it.”
– Tulip: “She don’t want me looking, she shouldn’t put on that booty in the morning.”
– Waitress: “Keep it away from the windows, people are eating.”
– Angel: “What’s inside of you isn’t God.”
SPOILER TOWN (Comic Spoilers)
– Tulip hooking up with Cassidy this early and for this reason is an extremely huge curve ball. I guess I can understand that it’s being used to solidify Cassidy’s infatuation with her moving forward, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the right direction to take here.
– The Saint of Killers subplot is coming along nicely, even if I think it could have been formatted a little bit differently. We’ll have to see if they actually have the scenes of him in Hell, but it should be interesting all the same. What they absolutely should not do is have him be the stinger of the finale to Season 1, but I can’t help but think that will be the case regardless.
– Odin’s “God” is obviously the “meat” and I thought that was a great swerve, though predictable.